On 17 October 1944, USS RUNNER (SS-476) slid down the ways at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. By May of 1945 she was in Pearl Harbor; soon thereafter she headed out on her first war patrol. Although she was only supposed to be scouting for minefields in the Sea of Japan, on 10 July she got the chance to take out an enemy minesweeper, although the accomplishment was very nearly negated when the torpedo in the #6 tube, running hot and wedging the exterior door open, refused to leave the boat. So the commanding officer got creative: “Put large down angle on boat and blew air into #6 tube, backing full, and shook the torpedo out. No explosion.” In July RUNNER set a course for Guam, picking up 16 rescued airmen from USS GABILAN (SS-252) and USS ASPRO (SS-309) along the way.
The boat and her crew never got to fire another shot—by the time they arrived on station for their second patrol, Japan had surrendered. But instead of being ordered to turn for home, RUNNER received other orders: “The Commanding Officer, U.S.S. RUNNER assumed command of the ‘PEACE MAKERS’, consisting of RUNNER, ARCHERFISH, CAVALLA, GATO, MUSKALLUNGE, SEACAT, TIGRONE, RAZORBACK, HADDO, HAKE and PILOTFISH for the purpose of proceeding to TOKYO BAY for the surrender ceremonies.”
On 30 August the twelve boats came together, forming two columns on either side of USS MADDOX (DD-731). At 1600 RUNNER sent the destroyer-escort a message: “WE ARE PROUD TO BE SIGNED UP WITH YOU IN THE GREAT THIRD FLEET FOR THE BIG SHOW IN TOKYO.” Acknowledging both submarines’ wartime accomplishments and their stealth, MADDOX replied: “YOU SUB PEOPLE DON’T HAVE TO TAKE YOUR HATS OFF TO ANYBODY X AS FOR TOKYO YOU WERE PROBABLY THERE LAST WEEK.”
The following morning, at 1017: “Entered TOKYO BAY. Thanked and released WREN [DD-568, which had taken over escort duties from MADDOX]. As he departed he sent subs this message ‘YOU MAKE A FINE SIGHT.’ It was great to be there. It was such a beautiful day in spite of the low, rainy, misty weather. (Reminded us of RUNNER’s favorite song, ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Morning’ from ‘Oklahoma’).” After four years of combat in which the American submarine force, constituting less than two percent of the Navy as a whole, sank 30 percent of Japan’s Navy and 60 percent of her merchant marine—at a cost of 52 boats and 3,506 lives—the men of the PEACE MAKERS had a front-row seat for the official end of hostilities. Three days later, RUNNER “dived to 80 feet in the sacred waters of TOKYO BAY” and then set a course for Pearl Harbor and her new, post-war assignments.